JPMorgan First Big Bank To Shutter Branches As Virus Spreads

JPMorgan Chase is temporarily closing 1,000 branches — about 20 percent of its locations — in the wake of the coronavirus, according to a report in The Financial Times citing an internal memo. It is the largest retail bank to shutter branches because of the pandemic.

A JPMorgan Chase official sent a memo to workers on Wednesday (March 18) that announced the closing of about a fifth of their branches, with the exception of drive-through windows.

“Starting tomorrow, we will reduce the number of open branches,” consumer banking head Thasunda Brown Duckett said in the employee memo. “This will help us protect our employees as we provide essential services to our customers and the communities we serve.”

People will still get paid their regular salary regardless of branches closing or reducing hours. About 4,000 branches are cutting back hours of operation. Some employees were given the option to work from home.

“Even after Chase’s move, almost 99 percent of branches in the U.S. are open,” said Richard Hunt, chief executive of the Consumer Bankers Association. The industry group’s membership is comprised of big banks.

A Wells Fargo spokesperson told FT that the “vast majority” of the bank’s branches are still open.

“We recognize the need to keep employees and customers in our branches as safe as possible, so we are implementing an enhanced cleaning program in all properties, installing hand sanitizer stations in our branches and encouraging social distancing,” she said. 

A spokesperson from Bank of America told FT that it is operating as usual and no branches have been closed. A Citigroup spokesperson said it, too, is open for business as usual. 

JPMorgan Chase started moving traders off Wall Street and sending sales staff to work at backup locations in New York and London on March 6 as the company started preparing to do its part to contain COVID-19.